Restaurant Hiro (Antwerp)

© Hiro

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Eleven seats along the wooden bar overlooking the Yakiniku grill, another dozen or so dotted about the dining room, fish aged kombujime-style waiting their turn in the mauve glow of the dry-ager fridge…. This groovy izakaya from the two super Saiyanas Bart Huybrechts and Thomas Van de Weyer (the ringleaders behind the legendary Nashville, Oklahoma, Caracas and Oaxaca pop-ups) thrusts Antwerp’s revo-culinary underground scene into the spotlight. Completing the team are sushi master Prakash “Cash” Lamichane and dessert slayer Jeff Gillon. Opt for small snack plates or go all out with the omakase chef’s menu, which that night brought out the big guns: tasty chicken skin chips; spellbinding dry-aged salmon nigiri; syncopated tuna maki-taco; moreish shiso tempura; piping hot broth with sliced octopus bobbing about; and a sake baba covered in an umeboshi salted plum sabayon for the endgame. Kamehameha, comrade! // Sugar Kowalczyk

FEELING THIRSTY? A carefully curated selection, including Susucaru, a volcanic Sicilian red/white blend from Frank Cornelissen (€13 a glass, €65 a bottle), as well as some darn good sakes: Homare honjozo from Miyoa sake brewery (€10 a guinomi cup), a junmai Arabarashi, the first brew of the season from Morita Shuzo (€9) and a crystal-clear Hyakuman Choju No Yume from Niigata Meijo (€55 a bottle).

PRICE? Omakase menu €125, small plates €10 (tempura), €11 (baby katsu) and €18 (sashimi), sushi €3-9 (each).

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